Study: Soldiers need work-life balance

A family-friendly work culture in the military benefits both the soldier and the organization, a U.S. psychologist says.

Satoris Culbertson and colleagues at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas, examined survey data and performance measures of 230 U.S. Army personnel stationed in Europe in units with high deployment loads in 2001.

The study, published in Military Psychology, found soldiers’ perceptions of a family-friendly environment affected their physical fitness, their confidence in task performance and if they wanted stay on in the military.

Given the especially difficult circumstances surrounding military obligations for U.S. soldiers — for example, an increased threat of deployment due to the current wartime context — a better understanding of how family-friendly perceptions can benefit soldiers is increasingly important, Culbertson said in a statement.

Culbertson, who also collaborated with Ann Huffman of Northern Arizona University, and Col. Carl Castro of the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, says even though family-friendly policies may be in place, military personnel might not perceive the environment to be family-friendly if they have a superior or peer who is unsupportive or disparages them for taking advantage of a particular policy.

The researchers suggest military’s local leadership needs to foster and support family-friendly policies.

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